Longmire returning to duty after OPD declines to discipline officer
By Josh Richman and Thomas Peele, The Chauncey Bailey Project
Despite state investigators and other experts saying that a detective’s ties to Your Black Muslim Bakery’s young leader compromised his investigation of a journalist’s slaying, the Oakland Police Department will decline to discipline him, police sources say.
Sgt. Derwin Longmire, who investigated the Aug. 2, 2007, killing of Oakland Post editor Chauncey Bailey in downtown Oakland, will return to work within days, according to three department sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.
He was reassigned from homicide to patrol last year, and he has been on paid administrative leave since April pending possible disciplinary action in this case. Longmire’s department hearing “didn’t go well” for police administrators seeking discipline against him, the sources said.
A law enforcement official familiar with the case said fear of jeopardizing the murder cases that came out of this investigation played a part in the decision to return Longmire to duty.
The Alameda County District Attorney’s office is prosecuting on murder charges: Devaughndre Broussard, the former bakery handyman; former bakery CEO Yusuf Ali Bey IV, whom Longmire has known for several years and whose family Longmire has known far longer; and bakery associate Antoine Mackey. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, said it was unlikely that prosecutors would call Longmire to testify at trial.
Michael Rains, Longmire’s attorney, said Wednesday that there is “a tentative agreement reached that he would be returning to work and that it would be subject to a five-day suspension for failure to complete some details on homicide cases other than the Bailey case. … They wanted him back to work maybe as early as this week, but he’s off on a trip with his son for school.
“He’s not happy about it, and I’m not happy about it,” Rains said of the proposed suspension. “But you know what? He needs to go back to work, and we need to get this put behind him. … I’m recommending that he go for it.”
Rains said that the department had accused Longmire both of compromising the investigation of Bailey’s death, and of being insubordinate by failing to obey an order to keep his superior officer apprised of his jailhouse conversations with Bey IV.
The department has not yet issued any written finding, Rains said. “This is the OPD — don’t give them too much credit for being deep thinkers or hard workers.”
Oakland Police spokesman Jeff Thomason said neither he nor newly-sworn Chief Anthony Batts would comment Wednesday. “This is a personnel issue that we can’t discuss in public. State law forbids me from talking about personnel issues,” he said.
Yet top police officials previously admitted the investigation had been flawed.
As he announced his resignation in January, Oakland police Chief Wayne Tucker acknowledged “mistakes” in the case. He would not elaborate, but he said homicide detectives “rely too much on interrogations” as a substitute for other investigative techniques “to a fault.”
Assistant Chief Howard Jordan, the department’s acting chief from February through this week, in April said that a state Justice Department report and an internal affairs report led him to conclude that Longmire had been the wrong person to lead the Bailey investigation.
“I thought (Longmire) was able to separate his relationship with the bakery and do his job, and I’m not sure about that right now,” Jordan said.
Sources familiar with the reports said the state Justice Department concluded that Longmire mishandled the Bailey investigation, and an internal affairs captain had described Longmire’s handing of the case as “inadequate.”
“A complete exoneration of Longmire is not borne out or justified by many of the things he did and failed to do in that investigation,” said Golden Gate University Law Professor and Dean Emeritus Peter Keane, a former Chief Assistant Public Defender in San Francisco who cited Longmire’s failure to document important facts in his case notes. “His professionalism in my opinion was cast into great doubt.”
The day after Bailey’s slaying, police raided Your Black Muslim Bakery on warrants from another case; they found the shotgun used in Bailey’s slaying. Hours after the raid, Longmire let Bey IV have a seven-minute, unrecorded, unsupervised conversation with Broussard in a police interrogation room. Immediately after, Broussard confessed to killing Bailey.
Broussard later recanted, saying Bey IV had told him to take the fall on the bakery’s behalf — a claim that sharpened criticisms of Longmire for failing to tape their conversation.
Indeed, Bey IV later was secretly videotaped saying that he had ordered Broussard to confess and that Longmire was protecting him from charges.
Broussard in April admitted to prosecutors that he killed Bailey but said he did so at Bey IV’s order; Broussard’s plea deal calls for a 25-year prison sentence, and an Alameda County grand jury indicted Bey IV on murder charges for Bailey’s slaying and two others.
The Chauncey Bailey Project reported a year ago that Longmire’s case notes — in which department procedures require the recording of significant events — omitted references to evidence pointing to a conspiracy involving Bey IV to kill Bailey, including a report on tracking-device data placing Bey IV’s car outside Bailey’s apartment less than seven hours before the slaying. Sources say the state investigation criticized Longmire for this omission.
The project also has reported several times in the past year on Longmire’s telephone conversations with the jailed Bey IV, recorded by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office but also omitted from Longmire’s case notes. In one such call, Longmire said he would defend himself against those who would “crucify” him for being friends with Bey IV.
In addition, documents indicate that Longmire interfered on Bey IV’s behalf in an investigation of the videotaped ransacking of two liquor stores in 2005; the gun used to kill Bailey was stolen from one of the stores. Bey IV last year pleaded no contest to eight felony charges, including vandalism, false imprisonment, civil rights violations and hate crimes in that case.